Afghanistan and Libya top of agenda as Obama flies in for state visit

President will urge Cameron not to withdraw troops from Helmand – but PM wants more help fighting Gaddafi in return

Barack Obama will pressure David Cameron this week not to begin scaling back British forces' involvement in Afghanistan later this year.

The American president, who arrives at London Stansted tomorrow to begin a full state visit to Britain, after a quick stop-off in Ireland today, will seek the Prime Minister's backing for a tougher stance on a range of international and security issues from "AfPak" (Afghanistan-Pakistan) and combating homegrown terrorism to missile defence in the former Soviet Union. Mr Cameron will, in return, seek deeper American commitment for Nato action in Libya, where Britain and France seek help towards an exit strategy from the conflict.

The two leaders will use Mr Obama's visit this week to announce plans to establish a joint national security taskforce to develop new strategies on defence, international aid and foreign policy in areas where they do not already co-operate – away from Afghanistan or Libya, for example, and looking more towards future threats.

It comes at a time when both Governments privately admit they were ill-prepared for the speed and extent of the uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East.

Mr Obama will expect support for the tough line taken with Pakistan following the controversy over the Bin Laden raid, and also seek to ensure that the UK does not pull out too many troops from Afghanistan once the "drawdown" starts this summer. The Americans are also keen for the British to play a longer-term training role for Afghan forces beyond the scheduled date for end of combat operations in 2014.

Washington wants London to exercise greater control over extremist Islamist influences within Britain, many of whom are of Pakistani descent. American politicians and security agencies continue to claim that Britain remains a centre for jihadist indoctrination and recruitment.

The flow of intelligence from the US to Britain will also remain restricted until UK law is changed – such exchanges were curtailed after judges in London ordered MI6 to hand over information supplied by the CIA to the legal team of former Guantánamo inmate Binyam Mohamed. For now, US officials have agreed that any information they have about a direct threat to the UK will be passed on, with redactions where necessary in case it becomes public due to court instructions.

The issue of siting missiles in Poland, which Mr Obama will visit next, is also likely to be on the agenda. The US administration has abandoned George W Bush's version of the missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic, but will place the Patriot missile system, a defensive system, there.

The Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, demanded at the weekend that Nato give a written undertaking that the missiles will not be a threat to his country. Another Obama request will be that the UK, which has built up good relations with Moscow under Cameron, helps to reassure Moscow about this. Mr Cameron will work hard to gain Mr Obama's help on Libya. The US has been anxious not take the military lead on unseating Gaddafi. Although a visit to Washington by Defence Secretary Liam Fox and the head of the military General Sir David Richards led to Mr Obama authorising the use of Predators, the Americans have not been as vociferous in the backing of the rebel leadership. Robert Gates, the outgoing US Defence Secretary, said much more needed to be learnt about the composition of the opposition and that claims of Islamist fighters in their rank needed to be investigated.

However, the shared military burden in Afghanistan and Iraq will be much stressed at a barbecue in Downing Street in which Samantha Cameron and Michelle Obama, with their husbands in attendance, will serve burgers and sausages to British and American service personnel and their families. The new joint security taskforce will be led by Peter Ricketts, the Government's National Security Adviser, and his opposite number in the American administration Tom Donilon.

Yesterday in an interview with the BBC ahead of the visit, Mr Obama admitted that any longer-term strategy for both countries would involve talking to the Taliban. "We're not going to militarily solve this problem," he told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show.



The itinerary

Today

The presidential visit begins this morning when President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle touch down at Dublin, above, after a flight on Air Force One.

The couple will travel to the Palladian splendour of Aras an Uachtarain, President Mary McAleese's official residence in Dublin. Later today the couple will make a 45-minute trip by helicopter to the President's ancestral village of Moneygall, above, 40 miles outside of Dublin, where the presidential entourage will outnumber residents by a sizeable margin. Once back in Dublin, the President will speak at an open-air rally on College Green

Tomorrow

The Obamas are to fly from Dublin to Stansted where they will be met by the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, who will escort them to Buckingham Palace to meet the Queen for a full ceremonial welcome. They'll return to the palace later for a state dinner and spend the first of two nights there, reportedly in the lavish Belgian suite. In the afternoon, the first couple will travel to Westminster Abbey for a wreath-laying service before the President heads off for a meeting with David Cameron, above. He'll also meet the Labour leader Ed Miliband – but has no space in his diary for Nick Clegg.

Wednesday

In the morning, the President will meet Mr Cameron again, this time for bilateral talks. Meanwhile, Michelle Obama and Samantha Cameron will be preparing for their jointly hosted barbecue at No 10 to honour military families from the US and UK. Mr Obama and Mr Cameron have said they will "drop in" to the party, before holding a joint press conference. Later in the day, President Obama is to address both houses in Parliament, a rare honour bestowed on few visiting world leaders.

The Obamas will then prepare for another formal dinner, this time in honour of the Queen at Winfield House, the residence of the US Ambassador in London.



Thursday

The President and First Lady depart from Stansted for Deauville, France.

The Obama entourage

24 The number of vehicles in the President's convoy

100 armed bodyguards will protect the Obamas during their four-day state visit to Britain

170 guests are expected at Buckingham Palace for tomorrow's dinner

On the agenda

"Afpak" The Americans want the UK to stay committed to Afghanistan in the long-term – that means not starting to pull out troops later this year – and support its tough line on Pakistan harbouring terrorists

Terrorism in Britain The US wants the UK to do more to combat extremism among British Muslims. Washington also wants guarantees that the British authorities will better protect the information supplied by American intelligence agencies from disclosure ordered by the courts.

Libya The UK wants the US to show more public commitment in getting rid of Muammar Gaddafi. But the US administration remains sceptical about the rebel government in Benghazi.

Middle-East President Obama will seek Mr Cameron's support on Israel returning to the pre-1967 borders. But British influence on Israel/Palestine is limited.

Missiles and Russia The US wants Britain to reassure Moscow about the siting of Patriot missiles in Poland.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths surrounding the enigmatic singer
Life and Style
life
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
Sport
Christian Benteke of Aston Villa celebrates scoring the winner for Aston Villa
football
News
Bill O'Reilly attends The Hollywood Reporter 35 Most Powerful People In Media Celebration at The Four Seasons Restaurant on April 16, 2014 in New York City
media It is the second time he and the channel have clarified statements
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Lettings and Sales Negotiator - OTE £46,000

£16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Home Care Worker - Reading and Surrounding Areas

£9 - £13 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a s...

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn